For students and academics within the field of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, it is readily apparent what an enormous professional contribution Professor Hendrik Koornhof has made to this critically important specialty, not only in Africa, but worldwide. For those outside of the specialty, his contributions as a thoroughly decent person and role model are no less evident. What emerges in both spheres is his clear commitment to the welfare of others, as opposed to himself. His modesty and self-effacing nature have endeared Hendrik to many generations of students, peers and others who have indeed been privileged to have benefited from knowing him and working with him. In his 50 years with the South African Institute for Medical Research, and subsequently with the National Health Laboratory Service, Hendrik Koornhof has been the ideal academic, who is not as concerned about receiving financial rewards, recognition, etc. as about contributing to scientific knowledge. Many of his contributions have been in guiding others by his words and his deeds, and as a result he has been rewarded in seeing the accomplishments of his students, many of whom have gone on to achieve greatness in diverse fields, both locally and abroad. As we reflect in this festschrift on Hendrik's many achievements over 80 years, we thank him for more than just his research and teaching contributions over half a century with the South African Institute for Medical Research and the National Health Laboratory Service. We thank him for showing us what a privilege it is to work in the world of academia. Although we are not microbiologists, we thank him for having inspired us with the will to address problems of service delivery in the fight against microbiological diseases, which constitute the overwhelming bulk of the burden of disease in the developing world, both in Africa and further afield.